It's not surprising that October was another sales success story for Ford (NYSE: F), with the Blue Oval's U.S. sales up 19% year over year. That was well ahead of the 14% industry average, as Ford continues to gain ground in a recovering economy. But it's just another data point in what has been a happy trend for the automaker: Year to date, Ford's sales are up 21%.

That's about double the industry average, and Ford's recent financial results have reflected its string of sales successes. But while the details of its most recent U.S. success are worth a closer look, it's also worth noting that the U.S. wasn't Ford's only success story in October.

A familiar story under the hood
So what was the big story? Balance, with the small Fiesta, Ford's crossovers, and trucks all posting solid sales. The flagship F-Series pickup posted its strongest monthly numbers in nearly three years, thanks to a "Truck Month" promotion and a general industry trend toward stronger pickup sales. While "promotion" typically means "incentives," Ford's per-sale incentive spending was essentially flat versus both last month and October 2009, according to data from Edmunds.

Contrast that with once-frugal Toyota (NYSE: TM), which has ramped up incentives in a big way to try to keep its sales from sagging. It's had mixed results; Toyota was the only major automaker to see a sales decline (down 4%) in the U.S. in October. While Ford's incentive spending is still higher than the company would like, it isn't showing up on the bottom line. Ford is currently the world's most profitable automaker.

And what of that other old Detroit weak point, fleet sales? Ford executives speaking to Edmunds touted theirs, noting that the company now has six of the eight best-selling vehicles in the commercial fleet space. Ford's fleet sales accounted for 29% of October's total and about 32% year to date, a bit ahead of last year's numbers, but probably not cause for concern.

But that's not all
The U.S. wasn't Ford's only good sales story in October. Sales from its Chinese joint venture were up 33% on the month, with almost 50,000 vehicles sold. That's still well behind Ford's domestic sales levels -- 157,935 in October -- but it's an increasingly important part of the overall picture for an automaker that was seen as a bit player in China until recently.

Ford got a late start in China relative to the other global giants, and still has considerable ground to make up on market leaders like General Motors and Volkswagen. But its Chinese sales are within striking distance of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-B)-backed domestic upstart BYD (OTC: BYDDY.PK), which has been struggling lately despite producing the country's best-selling car. While marketwide sales numbers won't be available for a few more days, it's likely that Ford's October sales growth outpaced the overall market in China as well.

A look ahead
Ford has two major product launches looming. First is the all-new Focus compact, a "world car" that will be sold in many different countries. The new Focus is a clean-sheet redesign that has the potential to be a class leader (and a huge global hit). Unlike some past small cars from Detroit, it should be solidly profitable, thanks to the global economies of scale resulting from CEO Alan Mulally's "One Ford" plan.

Ford's also relaunching its iconic Explorer in January. The Explorer, once one of America's favorite kid-hauling (and gas-guzzling) SUVs, has faded in popularity in recent years and was in serious need of a rethink. Ford thinks it has a winner in the new edition, which still seats seven and still comes with all-wheel drive, but is more car-like in its handling and is expected to post much more impressive fuel-economy numbers.

The Focus and the Explorer are expected to be big parts of Ford's sales story in coming months. But with Toyota scrambling to recover, Honda (NYSE: HMC) posting solid gains, and about-to-be-public General Motors shifting into high gear, an already competitive market is likely to become even more brutal.

What do you think? Will the Focus and Explorer help Ford maintain its string of market share gains? Scroll down to leave a comment and let me know.

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Fool contributor John Rosevear owns shares of Ford. Berkshire Hathaway is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. BYD is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Berkshire Hathaway and Ford Motor are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. The Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. You can try any (or all!) of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days, with no obligation.

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